Gnarls Barkley’s new CD, The Odd Couple, is now available at various online music retailers, including iTunes, three weeks before its scheduled release, without any notice. The follow-up to the group’s Grammy-winning debut CD, 2006’s St. Elsewhere, was originally slated to drop on April 8. The curious and sudden move comes as their new single, “Run,” remains absent from Billboard’s Hot 100 chart at press time, prompting speculation that the decision to move forward the release date was an attempt to spur interest. But Danger Mouse (pictured, right, with Cee Lo) says the release date was pushed up because the album leaked. “My manager told me [the record leaked],” Danger said. “And then you don’t know how bad it is. And then people on the street start telling you that they like the new record and you’re like, ‘Oh. Cool.’ [Laughs] And then you start to realize that it’s out there.” Julie Greenwald, president of Atlantic Records, Gnarls’ label, also dismissed claims that the album was deliberately leaked to create a buzz. “[I]t wasn’t premeditated and it’s unfortunate, because there’s a lot of hard work and effort, not just from the band, but all the people working at the label as well, to set this up and try to do a fantastic marketing roll out,” Greenwald said. “Obviously, it wreaked havoc on us all and we make the best of it, but why would anyone want it only to be available illegally?”

Danger Mouse says the duo has mixed feelings about the online distribution of their music and that he’d prefer to have their records release as a digital download and physical CD on the same day. “I didn’t wanna put it on iTunes separate from the physical release,” he said. “It’s just something that I guess apparently is done, and it’s the label’s job to handle that kind of stuff. In a perfect world, for me personally, I would’ve just had them all come out the same day…. I’d rather people have it in their hands and have the choice. But some people don’t mind or don’t want it their hands, they just get it online. You at least give everybody the option. But, yeah, I’d always prefer somebody to just have it in their hands.”

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